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Vegan extremists have bullied a mom-and-pop butcher shop in California’s most liberal city into hanging an animal rights sign in the window that the shop owners say amounts to “ethical extortion.”

The Local Butcher Shop, of Berkeley, had been targeted for months by nearly naked protesters dripping in fake blood. The protests had been organized by the vegan group Direct Action Everywhere, or DXE, which said they would continue if the shop’s owners, Monica and Aaron Rocchino, didn’t cave in to their demands.

“To be threatened and forced to abide by their beliefs just makes me sad,” Monica Rocchino told The Guardian Wednesday. “Their tactics are really extremist … This is ethical extortion.”

The paper quoted Matt Johnson, a Direct Action Everywhere organizer, as saying that he and his group challenge places that market their businesses as humane to animals.

“People are paying a lot more for these dead animals,” he told the paper. “They have some notion that these animals are being treated well.”

The group contends that there is no ethical way to kill animals for food and are campaigning to make Berkeley the first “city free of violence toward animals,” meaning banning the sale of meat, The Guardian reported.

The group initially demanded that the Rocchinos turn their shop into a “vegan butcher” that did not sell meat in exchange for ending the protests. The Rocchinos rejected that demand.

The sign says killing animals is violent and unjust, “no matter how it’s done.”

The Washington Post reported that Mimi Stein of Certified Humane, an organization that certifies farms with the highest standards for painless slaughter, had denounced Direct Action Everywhere’s actions.

“DXE is attempting to undermine consumer confidence in products which are, in fact, ethically produced and businesses working in good faith to reinvigorate a very desirable traditional business model,” Stein told the paper in an email. “Shame on DXE!”

In recent weeks, neighborhood residents held protests in support of the Local Butcher Shop, not necessarily because they were customers but because they were tired of the disruption, Monica Rocchino told the San Francisco Chronicle.

 She told the paper that so far, business has not been affected by the sign.

“If anything, (customers) say ‘this is ridiculous and we’re sorry that you’re being extorted that way.’ It’s not going to change anyone’s mind,” she said. “They’ve put a lot of thought into where they’re getting their meat.”

 



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